Homeschooler Family?

I have a confession here.  I used to make fun of home-schoolers.

Growing up the only homeschoolers I knew were… well, you know, really dorky and socially inept and awkward.  Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

After getting married, I got to be friends with a truly normal lady at church.  I was kinda shocked when I found out she had been home-schooled.  (Sorry, Amy!)  I have met a fair amount of normal homeschooling families since being married, and have started considering it as a viable option for my own kids.  (We will most likely do a half day in local schools, and supplement with home-school.)

Fast forward to my current situation: Ladybug is two and a half.  I have decided to begin doing some structured “preschool” with her at home three mornings a week.  Definitely not anything fancy.  Working on numbers and shapes (letters too in the future), fine and gross motor skills, art projects, music and singing.  We just started this week, and I feel really good about it, but I have some home-school questions (mostly thinking towards the future):

  • How do you design your daily schedule?
  • What curriculum/materials do you use or recommend?
  • How do you home-school more than one child at a time?

So, there’s my backwards Works For Me Wednesday— can you tell me what works for you???

13 thoughts on “Homeschooler Family?

  1. I highly recommend “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling” by Lisa Whelchel. She draws on real-life stories to share about a dozen homeschool situations. I love her writing style- I feel like I know her! Check out your library for books that talk about the different educational philosophies and styles. From there, you can search for a curriculum that falls in with your goals as a parent and teacher. For homeschooling many kids, I have loved Konos for non-sequential subjects. All the kids learn the same thing on their own level at the same time. Lots of folks recommend having special toys for kids during school time, or a toy rotation of some sort to keep kids occupied when it’s not their turn. Usually the first week or two back to a school schedule is spent more teaching the little ones how to play nicely than it is spent on school work. I love “Managers of Their Homes” by the Maxwell’s for great scheduling ideas.

    Our day usually starts with Bible time all together. Then I pull them aside individually for about ten minutes at a time for math and reading/language. We call Konos “fun school” because we do a lot of experiments and projects and reading library books together. I have a 1st, K, and preK along with two other smaller ones. It doesn’t always get done like this, but that’s the goal!

    Have fun embarking on this journey! Homeschooling is definetly the most challenging thing I do. But the days when you can see your kids love on each other, or learn something you’ve taught them, or apply something you’ve taught them make it all worth it! (And not having to send them to a bus stop during sub-zero temps is a plus, too!)

  2. I have been homeschooling for 5 and a half years. And my husband had the same objections you had (the homeschoolers we knew were not socially functional) but after meeting lots that were, he was convinced that it is possible 🙂

    so the schedule is just trial and error. you have to take into account any naptimes (of siblings in the future). sometimes that is the best time to do some focused time with your older child. I have 4 now (12, 9, 5 and 1) so our schedule is a bit different then if you have only 2 kids. you also schedule errands and other appointments and work around it. the great thing is, “school” doesn’t have to be restricted to 7-3 M-F. we can read a book about colonial williamsburg on our drive to grandma and grandpa’s house on New year’s eve. so you work it in where you need to.

    curriculum is also personal choice. I like to piece mine together with lots of different items from lots of companies, some people want a boxed curriculum with all the subjects layed out with lesson plans. again, you have to find what fits you and your childs personallities and learning styles. well, and finances come into play also 🙂 SonLight is a great boxed curriculum, for preschool I prefer to use play much more then workbooks. but my kids have loved Horizon math (since 1st grade) and we have used aBeka phonics, they are pretty good. also a book called Learning to read in 100 easy lessons is good. for preschool/kindergarten there is a great reading based curriculum that is called Five in a Row. that would probably be my top recomendation for that age and lower elementary.

    I have a series of books called What your ____ grader should know. I think from Core Knowledge. it just gives the basics of what your child should know at any given grade level and it gives some basic textbook like information on the core subjects as well.

    as far as multiple children, my two oldest do most of the core by themselves with me directing as they have questions. then history/science/art/extras get done together. I then try to take some more focused time with the 5 year old to do some activities on his level. and the toddler plays around us and it helps teach the older kids some responsibility if they have to help direct her ( elsewhere) so I can have the time with the 5 year old.

    what I love about homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility. good luck 🙂

  3. 1. My son tackles difficult subjects early in the morning when he’s fresh. We break the rest up, trying to follow a pattern of reading/activity/reading.

    2. I love Sonlight, Math-U-See and Apologia.

    3. When you have little ones and big ones, some days are just survival and plowing through. When you have children close in age you can often use one curriculum and add extra for the advanced or take away activities for younger.

  4. I seem to be flitting into a lot of these conversations today. My son is 4. We’re doing a VPK like thing with him (as it is semi-required in our state). We haven’t really structured a day. Today, he wanted to watch movies and play with “babies” so that’s what he’s been doing. We haven’t really started to dig back into his activity sheets.

    We use workboxes (the Sue Patrick idea) though in our own way. We set them up and usually put a couple of activities he can do entirely on his own in the first couple of boxes. He does those when he gets up. He will come get me when he hits the first activity that he needs help with. We mix it up, too. There are games, there are “read with mom” cards and there are workbooks for some things that he wants to do “bookwork” with.

    We have, but aren’t making so much use of, Oak Meadow’s curriculum for Kindergarten. Ben found it too easy and he was bored. We started using the pre-Explode the Code books with him and he loves those. He like Hooked on Phonics, but quickly decided the book version was not for him. We’ve been reading Stuart Murphy’s mathstart books to help him grasp math concepts. Nature walks, cooking, and experiments for science. Lots of games and lots of play.

    We want learning to be fun and somewhat child led. We keep the basic requirements in mind for kids his age and make sure he meets or exceeds them all. So far, he does.

  5. I have been home schooling for 6 years, and I currently have a 5th grader, a 2nd grader and a 4 yr. old.

    For us, the earlier we start, the better. I would say we start around 7 or 7:30. This doesn’t mean I am always ready by then, but the kids can go ahead and start Math or Vocabulary or something else they can do by themselves. Once I am ready, we do Bible together.

    My 5th grader can really do most things on his own but I still read a lot to my 2nd grader. We don’t always go in the same order everyday. I use the same History and Science for them, but modify the assignments based on grade level.

    I have written quite a bit on my blog about home schooling, but here are some books that I really like:

    Mystery of History
    Apologia Science
    Math U See
    I use Bob Jones English, but supplement and include other writing materials, too

    For my pre-schooler, I love to use the websites and

    I hope that helps a little. There is just so much info I could write about. Please feel free to visit my site or email me with any more questions!!

  6. We’ve been homeschooling since our first child was 2-1/2 (he’s now five). He has a 3-year-old sister. They’re both currently using the same curriculum: Horizons Preschool by Alpha Omega Publications. We love it.

    Before a formal curriculum, we used a variety of things I found online and pieced together. Every week we did a new “theme unit.” Many I chose, some he chose by his interests (castles and knights, sea life, fire safety, etc.). There are TONS of free resources online. My website has a terrific list of all the ones I’ve used and recommend: )

    Good luck!

  7. If you’d like a little ‘from the trenches’ perspective, I recommend checking out my mom’s blog She’s homeschooled 9 of us (well, 4 are still in school) and she’s got a wealth of information and experience. I think she touches on all the things you asked about (and if you have specific questions leave them in the comments–she usually needs a week or two to get a post up–she is still homeschooling after all!–but she does post on requested topics)

    Here is the direct link to a post I wrote as a homeschool graduate, answering some of the questions people always ask me about my experience from this side of the coin…

  8. I’ve been homeschooling such a short time…. but these are things that helped me early on:)

    make it fun:) use resources/games you already have. We enjoyed library reading times and resources:)

    I love Letter factory DVD by leapfrog when you’re ready for letters (mine learned their letters soooo Early… my youngest knew all her letters before her colors…LOL):) And I used the EVERYTHING for Early Learners series from Walmart for preschool and kindergarten. when my kids didn’t get the concept, I’d add extra games that worked on that concept.

    Another valuable resource was – they have a parent’s page that lists things kids can know at each stage/age… I always found those helpful in knowing what I could teach them or should teach them:)

    A fun overall resource was Five in a Row (and they have a preschool version called before five in a row)… basically you read the same book for a whole week and do activities from every subject based off the book:) We really enjoyed that when we did it:)

    As far as what curriculums to use in the future…. I’d ask some of the moms that you know who homeschool… ones that have similiar personalities and goals as you what they have used and liked or not liked!!! They will have the experience with resources. Another fun resource would be a homeschool supply/consignment store…. I’ve gleaned soo much information about materials from the ladies (most veteran schoolers)!! And if there is a homeschooling group nearby… I have cherished the other homeschooling normal moms and have eagerly taken their advice:)

    Another fun younger reasource is the Slow and Steady, Get me Ready…. it contains an activity a day/week that prepares them for K… I was soo surprised how simple some of the activities were:)

  9. Hello,

    I don’t homeschool, but I was homeschooled. And…I like to think I’m pretty normal (but trust me, I know what you’re talking about).

    Here’s what homechooling looked like at my house.

    How do you design your daily schedule? We were up around 8 and done around 1:00ish before we hit junior high–if we worked dilligently and got everything done. Our work was often done in whatever room my mom was cleaning, but that was more as we got older and could read ourselves. In the beginning it was done at the kitchen table or in the living room. Our schedule was really flexible, dentist appointmet? You read your science in the car outloud to mom. Field trip? Do double the work the day before. You really can do school AND accomplish a lot.

    What curriculum/materials do you use or recommend? my mom used a smattering of curruculum, and it changed with each child to meet our needs. my youngest brother was very good at math, so my mom used abeka with him. I and the middle brother were not, so we used saxon, which didn’t move quite as fast. We used the Joy Hakim series for history one year and I LOVED it. It was written with kids in mind, and it was amazing. I went back and re-read them just for fun when I got older. My mom used her library card like crazy as well. If we were learning about something in our science book and my mom wanted more taught on the topic she subsadized with outside recources.

    How do you home-school more than one child at a time? Patiently. 😛 My brothers and I are all three years apart, so when I was six the next brother was only 3. I think that helped a lot. By the time my brother was ready to sit down and do a full day of school I could read so I would simply sit at the table with them and do my work independtly. If I needed help, I asked. I don’t ever remeber it being a problem for my mom to school the three of us at once. She was always very organized and once we were done with something she had the next thing waiting and ready.

    I’m 21 but once I get married and have kids I plan to homeschool. My mom gave me a quality education, we went on field trips all the time, and I think our family is closer because of it. God bless you in whatever you decide to do!

  10. Hey Sheila,

    I by no means have started any type of schooling with my little one 🙂 but I have heard of the website which has some really neat information and ties in a Bible story, scripture and song. You may want to check it out.

  11. I have ben doing preschool for a year and a half with my DD and now with my son. I think you might enjoy checking out ‘Tot School.’ I found it in October and really enjoy her ideas. Good luck! HSing is a lot of fun!!

  12. Shelia,
    I’ve been meaning to reply since you posted this. I want to encourage you in something that I am still constantly trying to understand. We are leading a lifestyle of learning. We are teaching our children in all that we do, say, see and are. You are in such an amazing place in your life and I encourage you to remember that the Bugs are learning far more than you realize because of your situtation. Don’t stress yourself out over preschool! Read to your kiddos a lot, talk to them, ask them questions, cook with them, worship with them, play with them and you’ll be teaching as you go and do everyday life. I didn’t believe it when others told me this but now I really do. With that being said, here are a few of some of my favorite preschool resources: I bought my book used. I’m not sure how your library system is going to work out so this might not be an option for you.

    I love you, friend. I truly think of you guys often.

  13. Wow, I love this site. It offers a lot of different ideas, perspectives, styles, philosophies etc. We aren’t all the same and will be more successful if we can glean from the success and failures of others. I’m so glad there are so many of us out there these days. The freedom to choose homeschool is a wonderful thing. We all need to make sure we do all we can to protect that.

    I’m a homeschooling Mom of 16 years. I started homeschooling when I had six children and five in school from 8th grade to kindergarten. It was so hard to unschool them and allow them to find that natural curiosity and desire to learn. But we did it and they are all grateful for it. I have four still at home and am loving every day I get to spend with them. I’ve used lots of curriculum over the years, changed my perspective about teaching and am much more effective today than I was 16 years ago. A lot of that is thanks to others who I could visit with, learn from, model after, and brainstorm with. We bring each other strength.

    I encourage you to keep on keeping on. There are really tough times and all I can say is just relax and don’t worry. There is so much goodness being taught and modeled on a daily basis and it all builds up to quite outstanding young people. If you have taught them to read, write, and discuss; you have opened the world to them and they have the tools to learn anything they really put their minds to. In the end, that is the key to all success in learning anyway. We only truly learn what we decide to.

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